California Rt 1 from SF to LA

Old Jan 6th, 2023, 11:23 AM
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California Rt 1 from SF to LA

We had planned to drive from SF to LA down route 1 for the scenic drive on 2/14 and 2/15 with our friends from England prior to boarding a cruise in LA. I have been watching the weather in CA and with all the rain, wondering if this is still a good idea. Any advice on road closures, or should we just forget it , drive down the five and stay in Long beach for 2 days prior to our cruise. Too late to change flights as the cost would be too much especially for the brits.

Any web sites that are useful for the most current information on the roads would be appreciated

Thanks
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Old Jan 6th, 2023, 12:02 PM
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What is happening right now has no bearing on what will be happening next month. Having said that, one can never be sure about Hwy 1 in Dec/Jan/Feb/Mar. Could be heavy rain - or not, but even without a rainstorm there can be landslides because of earlier storms.

You really won't know until just before you start the drive. The CalTrans website will have road conditions, plus all news media will have prominent reports if there are problems.

I-5 could have its own issues because it is prone to really heavy tule fog where one literally can't see 10 feet in front of the car. I never EVER drive I-5 during fog events -- and again you won't know until just before your dates of travel. Plus -- if there is a winter storm there could be snow over the Grapevine on I-5 between the Central Valley and the LA Basin.

Basically I'd have a Plan A, Plan B and Plan C.

My Plan A would be to book a changeable/cancelable flight to LAX or Long Beach . . . then IF the weather seems to be cooperating, cancel and do the drive down Hwy 1.
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Old Jan 6th, 2023, 12:12 PM
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What janisj said, try this website and enter the highway # (1, 101, 5, etc.). Also check Big Sur Kate's blog.
Right now we are having a lot of coastal flooding here in the LA area, even though the rain stopped yesterday, several piers are closed and surf is 10-12 feet on west facing beaches. The noon news was showing another series of storms starting Monday evening into Tuesday.
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Old Jan 6th, 2023, 02:09 PM
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There is a rock slide just south of Ragged Point that will need to be fixed. They are saying it might take months. You just never know so you'll have to keep checking the CalTrans website as it comes closer. You could always stay a night in Carmel and drive down Hwy 1 as far as McWay Falls and then turn around, that is if the road is open that far down.
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Old Jan 6th, 2023, 04:18 PM
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Plan "B" or "C" should be to all board the Amtrak connector bus to Emeryville about 6:55 or 7AM. The buses pick up in front of the Chase Bank (555 Mission St.) They connect to either the Coast Starlight #11) or a San Joaquin train. The San Joaquin trains involve a bus ride from Bakersfield to Los Angeles Union station. The Coast Starlight #11 goes on the coastal route and gets to Los Angeles Union station at 9:11PM (sometimes late). The fares range from $54 to $60 per person which is not too terrible when you consider gas prices and rental car costs.
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Old Jan 8th, 2023, 07:09 AM
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Re the train idea... Union Station in downtown Los Angeles is far from Long Beach, and you'd arrive too late to rent a car. Unless you book an Uber/limo, you'd have to spend the night in LA before figuring out how you want to get to LB. There's no way I'd take a bus from Bakersfield to LA. Just no. Your English friends would just shake their heads at these 'train' routes.

If it was my trip, I'd spend one less night in LB and take more time driving from SF. This would allow for some nice stops, weather delays, detours, etc. If the Ragged Point landslide hasn't been cleared, you can drive to Lucia, detour inland to Hwy. 101and return to Hwy. 1 at Cambria/Harmony. Paso Robles on Hwy. 101 is a nice stop if you're interested in wine tasting. 300+ wineries! FWIW, I prefer this wine area over Napa/Sonoma.
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Old Jan 8th, 2023, 10:29 AM
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"If the Ragged Point landslide hasn't been cleared, you can drive to Lucia, detour inland to Hwy. 101and return to Hwy. 1 at Cambria/Harmony."

I don't understand, where are you suggesting they detour inland to 101?

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Old Jan 8th, 2023, 12:41 PM
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There was a recent landslide near Ragged Point that closed the road.

But now it's likely the OP won't be able to make the drive on Hwy. 1 at all. I just checked the Caltrans website, and more mud/landslides have caused the closure of Hwy. 1 between 2.2 miles north of San Simeon (abt. Piedras Blancas) and 4.4 miles south of Big Sur. Repairs will take "weeks to months." Tough luck for the OP.
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Old Jan 8th, 2023, 07:09 PM
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Yes, you can either drive down I-5 or perhaps fly SFO to LAX. There should be nonstops for around $50 per person on Delta or Alaska Airlines. Unfortunately fares to LGB (Long Beach) and Taxi/Ubers are expensive so factor in at least one day's car rental with a one way drop off (LAX to Downtown Long Beach usually Enterprise is the best). There are more choices at Long Beach Airport but then you need to get from there to the port.

Last edited by mlgb; Jan 8th, 2023 at 07:58 PM.
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Old Jan 8th, 2023, 08:08 PM
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It doesn't sound like the OP is looking for alternate transportation options as denmal stated the plan is to drive. Unfortunately, highway 1 is in bad shape at the moment. Here are two websites to check: https://roads.dot.ca.gov and this one about the Big Sur area: https://www.bigsurcalifornia.org/hig...onditions.html.

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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 04:50 AM
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Thanks for all the answers...with all the rain and road issues, we decided to just take I5 down...spend the night we had planned along Rt1 in Long Beach instead
.we will take our time on I5 and stop for lunch...maybe at Harris Ranch or maybe a mexican place. And then sleep in and see the long beach waterfront the next day. Have a nice dinner and get on the ship the following day..

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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 07:29 AM
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I would take Hwy. 101. A lot of farm land in the first part, but also some nice scenery. Fewer trucks and big rigs than I-5.

If you drove 101, you could visit a mission. Santa Clara, Soledad, San Miguel, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Buenaventura, all which are a short distance off the highway. (Hwy. 101 started as a footpath called "El Camino Real" that connected all of the Spanish missions.) Paso Robles would be a good mid-way overnight stay. Nice restaurants, wineries. After PR, the scenery gets even better, and there are several small, charming towns and Santa Barbara.

IMO, I-5 south of San Francisco has to be the most boring highway in California.
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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 07:51 AM
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I often take 101 and cut across via Los Banos to I-5. Then I get a whiff of garlic in Gilroy (windows down), better than the whiff of Harris Ranch (windows up).

Check the weather reports and decide if the tule fog is too dangerous to drive in. It has become less common recently. You can also leave home later or wait until the fog lifts ( it is densest in the mornings).

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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 10:03 AM
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Taking 101 is a good suggestion, with a stop in SLO for a tri tip sandwich at the Firestone Grill.
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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 10:15 AM
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As much as I like 101, the traffic coming in from above Santa Barbara into Los Angeles can be awful, and Santa Barbara/SLO also have floods and mudslides including right now. Sometimes it's a good idea to watch the local TV news weather forecasts, for Santa Barbara try KEYT (keyt.com).

Of course with Interstate 5 you have to worry about the Grapevine being closed due to snow. No driving routes are guaranteed issue-free at the end of February, especially this year. Plan accordingly.


Last edited by mlgb; Jan 9th, 2023 at 10:18 AM.
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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 10:24 AM
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Check the Caltrans site the morning of the drive. I've taken both routes many times including during heavy rains.
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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 11:12 AM
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With the most recent round of storms forecast into the next week, there is little chance that the scenic route will be open. It's too bad the flights can't be changed to end in Los Angeles (or Burbank or Long Beach or Orange County). If the OP can change their domestic flights, perhaps the overseas visitors can book inexpensive one hour domestic flights before prices go up. OP already in the Southland with a car rental could collect the visitors from whatever airport they are able to fly to. If they wait until the day before to check, that option will have disappeared.

PS everyone is repeating already given advice because California Fodorites are stuck at home today with the storm passing through. I think we ALL have driven ALL of these routes multiple times, in all sorts of conditions.

Last edited by mlgb; Jan 9th, 2023 at 11:15 AM.
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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 11:59 AM
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"Too late to change flights as the cost would be too much especially for the brits."

Just a thought . . . but a LOT of flights have had schedule changes. With most airlines, if any leg has a change by more than 4 hours, then changing flights including final destination is fee-free. Just something for the visitors could look into. Unfortunately though, if they have had a schedule change and accepted it, then that option is off the table.
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Old Jan 9th, 2023, 02:01 PM
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There are road closures, flooding and landslides in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties today. With immediate evacuation orders for the entire community of Montecito. That is a stretch where Hwy 1 and Hwy 101 are the same roadway along the coast. Not a good option when it's raining like it is now.
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Old Jan 10th, 2023, 05:09 PM
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Originally Posted by mlgb
There are road closures, flooding and landslides in San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties today. With immediate evacuation orders for the entire community of Montecito. That is a stretch where Hwy 1 and Hwy 101 are the same roadway along the coast. Not a good option when it's raining like it is now.
There seems to be an "atmospheric river" of storms coming in off the Pacific for the next week or so. It is doubtful that all of the damage to US 101 and CA1 will be repaired five weeks from today. It will not be very "scenic" for a long time. Currently the Amtrak Coast Starlight is not running because of the flooding and landslides. Taking I-5 may be a wise although not very scenic route. The problem in February other than fog is the section of I-5 south of the small town of Grapevine to Castaic which is sometimes closed because of snow. Caltrans has been known to close "the grapevine" after about an inch of snow because the people down there don't have snow tires and don't know how to drive in winter conditions.
During the Southwest Airlines meltdown at least one family that was stuck at the Burbank airport and wanted to get home to Sacramento, walked across the street and took Amtrak to get home.
If US 101, CA 1 and I-5 "grapevine" are closed on 2/14 then the plan C or D would be to fly from San Jose or Sacramento to Las Vegas and rent a car to drive to Long Beach.
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